How much organ jazz does one really need? This album certainly raises the question. Ultimately the organ is best suited for gospel and blues-tinged workouts as Jimmy Smith proved. Ventures into much varied material, such as bossa novas and ballads, can be sketchy. Larry Young was one of the few who successfully expanded the range the instrument could occupy. This points to one of the faults of this CD; the quartet wanders into territories that seem ill fitting for the context.
At least these sessions benefit from two gifted instrumentalists in Sonny Stitt and Grant Green. Stitt, by this time an elder statesman, is in top form. Green comps better than ever, suggesting that he spent the last few years in hiatus honing his chops. On the more straightforward numbers, like Patterson’s “Brothers 4” and Green’s “Donny Brook”, the quartet reaches a level of excellence equal to any combo of the time. Other tunes prove that Berlin and Bacharach don’t quite work in this format. The second half of the album, where the Brothers stick to more standard fare, is much more successful and plays to the strengths of all involved.
Ironically, this album is emblematic of a time when jazz itself was trying to find an identity in the wake of the death of Coltrane and the advent of rock and roll. Whether or not this album is worth your time depends on your interest in this setting, or whether you are one of the many who see it as a mission to acquire all of Green’s recordings. Fans of organ jazz are likely to find something of value here; those with a passing interest in it would do well to stick with The Sermon or Unity and skip this one.
Track Listing: Brothers 4, Creepin' Home, Alexander's Ragtime Band, Walk On By, Donny Brook, Mud Turtle, St. Thomas, Good Bait, Starry Night, Tune Up.
Personnel: Sonny Stitt-tenor sax, alto sax, Don Patterson-organ, Grant Green-guitar, Billy James-drums.
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